Olympics dream lives on in Tahoe

Tourism officials and athletes in town for the American Century Championship last week agreed it may take as much hard work and elbow grease to host the Olympics at Lake Tahoe as training for them.

"Obviously, it would take development (of venues), the way the games are," said World Cup champion Bode Miller, whose no-holds-barred Alpine skiing scored him two silver medals in the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City. He also competed in the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.

"It's tough to say for an athlete who grew up with the Olympic dream. The games have changed a lot. It's a lot about the money now. I'm not sure if I'll even race in them again," Miller said, while at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. "But I train the same way for World Cup."

Olympic soccer gold medalist Brandi Chastain, who was also on the course last week, was disillusioned that baseball and softball being cut from the 2012 games to be hosted by London.

After hearing the news, Chastain immediately thought of her friend, Lisa Fernandez, the Olympics softball gold medal-wielding pitcher.

"It's devastating. I sent Lisa a note. It's very unfortunate," Chastain said, shaking her head.

Chastain likes the idea of them coming to Tahoe.

"In terms of facilities, you wouldn't find a prettier place," she said.

The feeling among members of the Reno/Tahoe organizing committee is that since New York failed to be selected for 2012, the region's chances have improved for 2014 or 2018 for hosting the games.

Heavenly Mountain Resort Chief Operating Officer Blaise Carrig serves on the committee.

"I think the U.S. is in a good position for any winter or summer Olympics," committee Chairman Jim Vanden Heuval said. "And our strategic plan hasn't changed. We're still aiming for Reno, South Lake Tahoe and Truckee."

South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Duane Wallace echoed that sentiment.

Both men liked the idea of infrastructure improvements that would go along with the games' international attention.

"I think Ski Utah would say the Olympics have more than paid for itself in infrastructure (improvements)," Carrig said.

Aside from the permanent assets, Bruce Bommarito, the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism and a member of the organizing committee, wants the exposure that goes way beyond the event's two weeks of visitation.

"We're in much better shape now. We just had to wait for New York to move forward," Bommarito said.


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